A dark day for social media

Earlier this week the horror of the death of James Foley was brought to social media. I was shocked and upset by the way social media was being used. The brutal death was brought into the homes of millions of people. My thoughts are still with his family, friends and colleagues at what is a very difficult time.

The events also brought many aspects of social networking back into the spotlight. I have written before about the responsibility that comes with the power of being able to use social media. This was in the context of organisations and businesses who now have a way to directly connect with people. This was clearly true for everyone using social media this week.

People were shockingly sharing the video of the murder. Some will have been doing it because they can and some will have done it without realising that they have. A very small number may have been doing it to support the terrorist propaganda. It is important to remember that just because we can do things with the digital developments doesn’t mean we should. We have to be clear what we are doing and why we are doing it. This is important for everyone from the individual to businesses.

It is also not enough to say you didn’t understand how a social network worked. So, if you posted or reposted something then you have to take responsibility for that action. There can be no excuse of not knowing. If you are joining a social network then make sure you are clear about the security settings and that you understand what happens when you post something. Be clear about when retweeting will share a link, what it means and who can access it. Remember everything you post or comment on reflects on you.

Every one of us has a great power when we go on social networks. When you post something on Twitter, Facebook or whatever network you act as a publisher. You are the reporter, the commentator and the spectator. If you decide to say something then you have to understand the legal, social and moral issues attached to it. Social networks allow us all to be citizen journalists but with that power comes the responsibility. You would never see such footage on the television news so why did some people feel able to share it with the world?

If you were one of the people who shared the horrific video of James Foley’s death then perhaps you should think again about how you are using social media. Remember with great power comes great responsibility.

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